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March 5, 2008
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HONOLULU (AP) - A Marine smiles as he holds what appears to be a puppy by the scruff of the neck. The face of the motionless animal is shown to the camera as a colleague comments on how cute it is.

Then the black and white puppy is tossed off a rocky cliff.

Whether the 17-second Internet video clip is authentic or a prank, it has drawn sharp condemnation, widespread outrage and a military investigation.

Animal rights groups said they have been flooded with e-mails and calls about the disturbing video, which was viewed tens of thousands of times before it was taken down by on Tuesday ``due to terms of use violation.''

Many people expressed shock and anger on Web sites and blogs.

``We're appalled,'' said Martin Mersereau, spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in Norfolk, Va. ``Thankfully, it appears the Marines are taking this very seriously, as we expected that they would.''

The Marine Corps is investigating, calling the video ``deplorable and contrary to the high standards we expect of every Marine.''

``We do not tolerate this type of behavior and will take appropriate action,'' the Corps said in a statement.

A name for the Marine who threw the puppy was uttered in the video and has been widely circulated on the Internet.

The Marine whose name matches what was said is a 22-year-old lance corporal based at Kaneohe Bay; a working phone number for him could not be found.

Maj. Chris Perrine, spokesman for the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, earlier said the Marine involved could be based at Kaneohe but would not confirm his identity. Perrine was not accepting calls or questions Tuesday, according to assistant Linda Yokoyama.

The low-quality video shows two Marines joking before one hurls the puppy into a rocky gully. A yelping sound is heard as it flips through the air.

``There are cues in the audio that give us pause, but we have no conclusion, opinion on its validity,'' said PETA's Mersereau. ``We feel it's absolutely necessary that investigators determine its legitimacy by speaking directly with all those who were involved.''

An apparent discrepancy is in the audio of the puppy yelping as it is airborne. Though the dog is moving away from the camera, the sound does not diminish or fade.

Whether the puppy was alive when it was thrown is also at question because it didn't appear to be moving when held up. But Mersereau noted that puppies sometimes go limp when being picked up by the nape, he said.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International said it was horrified by the video and hopes the Marine Corps takes ``swift and strong action.''

Stephanie Scroggs, spokesman for the Washington-based group, said the video was the opposite of what she has experienced with U.S. troops. In November, SPCA launched Operation Baghdad Pups, which helps service members rescue and bring home animals from Iraq and Afghanistan.

``(They're) desperate to bring them out of that situation and show incredible acts of kindness,'' she said.

At a cost of $10,000, the group last week helped bring to the U.S. two dogs including a puppy that was found tangled in razor wire during a gunfight in Baghdad. The dog named ``K-Pot'' was adopted by the family of an Army medic who treated its wounds.

``I think there's two stories: there's this video and then there's multiple stories that we have about how compassionate our service members are,'' Scroggs said.

Mersereau said among the ``truckloads'' of calls and e-mails PETA has fielded, some were from Marines outraged by the video.

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The Union Updated Mar 5, 2008 09:39AM Published Mar 5, 2008 09:39AM Copyright 2008 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.